Minneapolis had 6 chefs and 3 restaurants qualify as semifinalists for James Beard Foundation awards in 2020. Sure, we have cheese-filled burgers and tater tot hotdish, but did you know that we have world-renowned chefs and nationally acclaimed restaurants?
Get to know the talent that lies within the Minneapolis food scene. These are some of the top chefs in Minneapolis.
A genius in the kitchen, and an inspiration among the Minneapolis food scene, Steven Brown of the two renowned restaurants, Tilia and St. Genevieve, remains an icon among local chefs. Experience his carefully crafted and elegant French-inspired menu at St. Genevieve, or dine at the local favorite neighborhood bistro, Tilia. Brown has made many connections with other buffs in the industry by serving as a mentor and friend. Mike Brown of Travail, Erick Harcey of Victory 44 and Upton 43, Landon Schoenefeld of Nighthawks and Peter Campbell of Red Wagon Pizza all cite Brown as a major supporter. Brown was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's 2019 Best Chef: Midwest Award and is again up for the 2020 award (Tilia).
The wildly popular Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza have another addition to the family, Young Joni. Ann Kim opened her third restaurant along with her husband and business partner in the winter of 2016, and it’s a huge success. She knows how to do pizza, which is a large focus of the Young Joni menu with twists like kimchi, preserved lemon, sweet potatoes, and clams. Decadent small plates like Korean beef short ribs and Thai sausage skewers supplement the other unique menu offerings. A former actress, Kim is constantly glowing and full of energy. She brings her creativity to the table, and she’s also one of the most liked chefs in town. Kim was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's 2018 and 2019 Best Chef: Midwest Award.
Founded by Sean Sherman, CEO Chef, Sioux Chef is an indigenous kitchen, caterer and food educator to the area. Co-author of The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen,winner of a 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award, Sherman's main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and awareness of indigenous foods systems in a modern culinary context. His own studies include Native American farming techniques, land stewardship, hunting and fishing, food preservation, and Native American migrational histories and culture, which all contribute in his work to bring back a sense of Native American cuisine to today's world. Sherman and partner Dana Thompson are also developing a new Mississippi riverfront restaurant, sure to focus heavily on indigenous culinary techniques and cuisine.
Chef and co-owner of Revival, Thomas Boemer is making his mark in the Minneapolis food scene. Boemer appreciates quality over anything, which is why Revival’s fried chicken has become the talk of the town. He states that good fried chicken requires focus and attention. Each piece is made fresh and with a precise technique. Boemer mentions that he used to grow up eating fried chicken at his friends houses, so recreating that warm feel and delicious crunch became a personal endeavor of his. Revival is also known to have one of the best burgers in town (if not the best). Boemer was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's 2018 Best Chef: Midwest Award for Corner Table and in 2019 for In Bloom.
Spoon and Stable might just be the trendiest restaurant in town. Gavin Kaysen has taken seasonal fare to a whole new level. He aims to capture the feeling that each season provides, and dish those feelings out on the plate. He starts with the classics, like pot roast and chicken, and uses his artistic eye to morph the dishes into something that evokes. Kaysen is also an advocate of helping chefs to develop their skills. He’s one of the founding mentors of the nonprofit ment’or BKB Foundation, which aims to inspire culinary excellence in young, aspiring chefs through education and mentorship. His newest restaurant, Demi is a 2-hour dining experience, where a wide variety of tastes accompany a 16-course menu, prepared only a few feet away from your table. Demi is a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant Award. Kaysen himself, was the winner of the James Beard Foundation's 2018 Best Chef: Midwest Award (Spoon and Stable) and is nominated this year for the 2020 Outstanding Chef Award.
Alex Roberts has innovated fine dining with Restaurant Alma. Seasonally inspired dishes with locally sourced ingredients and fine-tuned flavor make Restaurant Alma unlike any hotel restaurant you’ve ever experienced. Roberts claims that his approach to creating any dish has three parts: Richness (often the protein, full of flavor), aromatics (something that ignites the senses like tarragon or lemon zest), and the essence of the ingredient (something that reinforces the flavors of the richness in the dish). His flavors are subtle, yet full-bodied. Try Restaurant Alma and taste the difference. Roberts was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's 2018 Best Chef: Midwest Award and Restaurant Alma is up for the 2020 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurant Award.
Diana Moua is the pastry chef at two different Twin Cities restaurants and in 2016 was the first Hmong-American woman to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award. Since then she's been nominated for multiple James Beard awards for her truly beautiful dessert creations at Spoon and Stable. Moua uses inspiration from the dynamic Minneapolis seasons and in what local farmers are supplying in the area to come up with her unique pastry designs and tastes. She is once again a semifinalist for this year's James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef Award.
Justin Sutherland truly is a top chef after winning the Food Network's Iron Chef in 2018 and appearing as a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef. His love of cooking come from his mother and grandmother and the unique tastes and flavors found in his creations are influenced by his Southern and Japanese roots. Try out Sutherland's take on southern classics with a twist at Handsome Hog.
Christina Nguyen's food is mostly influenced by her travels abroad. This can especially be seen at her Hai Hai restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis where colorful plates inspired by Southeast Asia, including Bali, Vietnam, and Thailand are front and center. This self-made chef likes to browse local Asian grocery stores to put together her latest food ideas. The dishes at Hai Hai are not the kind you find at your typical Vietnamese restaurant, instead you'll get a taste of other traditional recipes and flavors she's discovered on her trips to Vietnam. Nguyen has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Midwest Award, which she was also nominated for in 2019.
Daniel del Prado moved to the United States from Argentina and made a name for himself in the Minneapolis food scene. His first project, Martina, mixes Italian and Argentinian flavors to create seafood-driven plates and wood-fire smoked meats. His newest establishment, Colita, is known as an upscale Latin barbecue spot, equipped with smoked meats and recipes from Oaxaca, Mexico. He was a semifinalist for the 2019 James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Midwest Award and is up for it again this year.